Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday that Moscow can’t ignore all of NATO’s nuclear capabilities since NATO leaders have been calling for Russia’s defeat.
“In today’s conditions, when all the leading NATO countries have declared their main goal as inflicting a strategic defeat on us, so that our people suffer as they say, how can we ignore their nuclear capabilities in these conditions?” Putin said.
Putin made the comments after suspending Russia’s participation in New START, the last nuclear arms control treaty between the US and Russia, which limits the deployment of warheads and launchers. He said Sunday that he wants the treaty in the future to take into account the nuclear arsenals of France and Britain.
The US, Britain, and France are the only three NATO countries with nuclear weapons, although the US has nukes deployed in other countries under the alliance’s nuclear-sharing program, including Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey.
France is estimated to have about 300 nuclear warheads, and the UK has about 200. But the British announced in 2021 that they were raising the cap of warheads they can have in their arsenal from 180 to 260, a 40% increase. The move calls into question London’s commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The New START limits the deployment of nuclear warheads at 1,550, more than Britain and France’s stockpiles combined. But the treaty also includes an inspection regime that Putin might want the countries to be involved in. Russian officials have also stressed that the New START could be restored if the US takes steps to de-escalate tensions.